Cleveland Budget Face-Off: City Council and Mayor Continue Budget Battle
Janet Babin- City Council Finance Chairman Bill Patmon of Ward 8 says budget negotiations will continue this morning between council and the administration. He says the sticking point is now less than a $10 million increase in revenues requested by council, but he wouldn't say how much less.
Bill Patmon- We're waiting on the administration to come back with a counter proposal to the one that we've put on the table. We've given away, and we expect them to give certain things and we'll at that time have an agreement, but as of yet we are not at agreement.
JB- At last reading, Council's budget included the additional revenues, but Cleveland Finance Director Ron Brooks says the money just isn't there.
Ron Brooks- Council's current spending plan is not balanced and it's going to require increasing the certificate of resources, and we're just not willing to do that.
JB- The Certificate of Resources comes from the Cuyahoga County Budget Commission. Director Lisa Rocco says Council gives her a number, and she plugs it in to the document. It's only when the State Auditor reviews the numbers that a discrepancy would surface.
City Council Finance Chairman Bill Patmon of Ward 8 is defending council's version of the budget, calling the request for an increase in the funds certificate, conservative.
BP- We found as much as $28 million that's possible. We're only asking that the certificate of resources express what actually is, the budget's normal expansion.
JB- Councilman Jay Westbrook of Ward 18 says he was alarmed when proposals were brought into the caucus last week just thirty minutes before the start of Council's meeting. Westbrook alleges that a majority of the proposed budget amendments to increase revenue weren't discussed among members of the finance committee.
Jay Westbrook- I was disturbed and did speak up in the caucus about Council being presented the equivalent of $15-$18 million in changes both increases in projected revenue and increase in expenditures with 30 minutes to consider it.
JB- Patmon says the amendments have been talked about and considered for two weeks. Westbrook worries that City Council's budget doesn't earmark enough money for expenses. He says the administration factored in a 3% increase for contract workers, but that figure could increase, depending on negotiations. Despite his reservations, last week Westbrook voted in favor of Council's preliminary budget.
JW- I respect the chair and the committee and I respect the fact that they have put this proposal forward. I also would like to think they respect my opportunity to raise questions about it.
JB- Westbrook admits that the extra money would mean more services for his constituents. Council has proposed spending $10 million on a neighborhood equity fund that would divvy up the money between the city's 21 wards. But he says if the money's only "pie in the sky," it won't help anyone.
JW- I make a practice of promising people in my Ward only what I can deliver them.
JB- Patmon plans to ask the Cuyahoga County Budget Commission to increase city revenues, so that they reflect council's proposed increases in revenue numbers. He says it's in the city's best interest to do so.
BP- There is a $10 million check from the Workman's Comp Bureau, and only half of that shows up in the budget, about three million, not even half of that. Are we to ignore that there is $10 million in the bank for the City of Cleveland...do we just ignore that or do we put it on the Certificate of Resources? I submit to you it's important that we put it in the certificate of resources.
JB- Officials in the Mayor's press office say what council passed last week was a budget out of balance, and that's not allowed. They say they don't know what will happen next, and wouldn't confirm whether a government shut down would take place if the budget wasn't passed by the legal deadline. The city charter requires that the budget layover for 15 days untouched, and be passed by April 1st. In Cleveland, Janet Babin, 90.3 WCPN.